Two Resounding Promises
Genesis 21:1 carries within the verse two resounding truths of our God. “The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised.” Do you see them? Here it is again with them highlighted for us “The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised.” I don’t know about you but to me those are some pretty significant and powerful statements that describe our God.
One of the greatest verses that describe and define Abraham’s faith I think is in Genesis 15:6 when Moses records “And he [Abraham] believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” You have to admire Abraham’s young but growing faith in the Lord when he’s asked to leave his home and family and go not knowing where he was going. I said his growing faith because despite the Lord promising to make him a great nation, inherit beautiful land, and through his seed all the nations would be blessed, Abraham and Sarah both struggled with God’s promises.
Because Sarah was barren they believed in the promise to an extent but Abraham proposed putting Eliezer of Damascus up as his heir. Because Sarah was barren they believed in the promise to an extent but sought to bring it to fulfillment by having Abraham take Hagar as a wife and have a son through her. Even when finally told that the Lord would visit Sarah and that she would conceive and bear Abraham a son both Abraham and Sarah laughed. But that brings us back to our first text in Genesis 21:1 – The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised.”
Over time you can see how Abraham’s faith and belief in those two basic and powerful truths had grown when you come to Genesis 22. Abraham is tested (v.1) by God when the Lord asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his only son and son of promise. Unlike in past times when Abraham felt threatened and lied about Sarah being his sister to save his own skin, unlike in times past when he and Sarah sought to bring about God’s promises their own way, this time Abraham’s faith leads him to trust in God. When young Isaac asks the logical question, “where’s the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham simply replies “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” (v.8) You can see that his faith has grown through the previous trials and circumstances.
We often read stories like that of Abraham and Sarah trying to go about things their own way and we talk about how foolish they were and how the simply just lacked faith. Like with everything else in life it’s so easy to sit back and point out what everyone else’s faults are and what they should have done. Did Abraham and Sarah make some poor choices? Yes. Did Abraham and Sarah struggle with seeking their own way and while they believed in God’s promises to an extent try to bring them to be their own way? Yes. But you and I would never do that right?
I’m sure you could hear the sarcasm in that last question. The truth is we all have done and still find ourselves doing the same things today at times. I have to remind myself that these stories like Abraham and Sarah weren’t given to me so that I can judge them and make myself feel better because I can point out what they should have done, feeling as if I’m so wise. No its there to help me see into my own life and realize the same struggles I face and need to overcome by growing my faith as well. In reality a lot of the situations that we read of these people of old making some poor choices are some pretty extreme situations. I can’t help but think that I’ve never been in situations to that degree or severity and yet made the same mistakes.
Thanks be to God for sharing with us men and women just like you and me that faced the same struggles I do. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4) He is always faithful in what He says and what He promises. Of that I can be sure!